Planning for Success: 5 Powerful Questions to Ask

PlanningForSuccessIn a world that is fast-moving and filled with challenge, something we can always count on is change. It seems that most people are in a state of transition nowadays. I see this with my clients, with my colleagues and with myself as well. There is a transition in my business, as I continue to evolve the ways I serve my clients and grow my business. There’s a transition in my homefront as well, as my children rotate in and out of the nest as they continue their education and start their own careers.

Traditional year-end review and making New Year’s resolutions can get a little stale and boring. Too often planning for success can become a very analytical and linear process. It’s easy to dial up success or turn down what didn’t work by taking incremental steps. The goals can feel like a “should” and your energy takes a nose dive. I find people having to work really hard to feel motivated or inspired by lists of new things you should do. Which is perhaps why only 8% of people making annual resolutions actually achieve them.

Research shows that almost 65% of us are visual learners. So when we make that list of endless resolutions or goals, if you’re not making them visual you’re missing out on an opportunity to get more deeply engaged and in love with your plans for success.

When I do strategic planning with a client and am drawing out their insights and desires in real time on a graphic map, it’s amazing how quickly they get a new perspective and get clear on their priorities. Bringing colors and images in to the planning process turns on creativity, insight and playfulness as they create a road map for their own success. When you make your plans for success visual, that is when magic and manifestation can really happen.

We live in a crazy, busy and quickly-changing world. The quality of the questions we ask when planning for success helps us set priorities and get clear on our values. What have you said “Yes” to that you now need to say “No” to so you can create space for what is to come?

Here are 5 powerful questions to help you plan for success in the year ahead!

1. What Do I Need?

What are your core needs? As Maslow articulated in his “Hierarchy of Needs”, until we address our basic survival and security needs, we won’t be able to  move forward to fulfilling other important social or self-actualization needs. Consider your most important needs and get as specific as you can. “I need to make at least $50,000 a year” is far more specific and powerful than just “I need enough money to live on” as a basic need.

2. Does This Bring Me Joy?

Is what you’re doing bringing you an experience of joy and expansion? Or do you feel a sense of drudgery and heaviness? If you’re feeling spread thin and approaching things with a sense of dread, chances are you have got some major commitment pruning to do. There will always be lots of things you could do or get asked to do by others, but it’s simply not possible to keep piling on the “Yes’s” and not end up exhausted at the end of the day. Become selective and look for how you can bring more joy into your life.

3. Does this Fulfill My Purpose?

Is what you’re doing an expression of your deepest gifts? Do you have a secret hankering to do something, but you keep holding yourself back? Spending your time and energy in ways that feels like a fit for your gifts and purpose is so rewarding, not just for you but for those around you as well.

4. Where Are My Blind Spots?

When you drive a car, you need the sideview mirror to check your blind spot. I see its message that “Objects may appear larger than they are” as really cosmic. Until we clearly see any disempowering behaviors we have, they have a huge energetic pull on us until we get them handled. Is what you eat, procrastination about paying bills, or being a committed conflict avoider a potential blind spot? Make the decision to look for these blind spots so you can refocus your energy in a constructive way that moves you ahead.

5. What Do I Need to Release?

The Universe loves a vacuum and will come rushing in to fill it with something new. And so it works with our life force as well. We must stop living like pack rats of choices and experiences, and release things that no longer align with our highest purpose (use Questions 2 and 3 to get clear on this). This may mean releasing limiting beliefs, physical clutter or relationships. Bless them, release them and welcome in the miracles that are to come in the year ahead!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To receive her “3 Essential Steps to Thrive After Divorce” free video training series, just visit

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